VENICE, Italy — Paris-based Indie Sales has taken sales outside Italy on “The First King” (Il Primo Re), a bold swords-and-sandals epic of sorts about the origins of Rome to be directed by Italian helmer Matteo Rovere (“Italian Race”).
Shooting is set to start Sept. 8 in Italy’s Lazio region surrounding the Eternal City on this conceptually ambitious pic, which will largely feature Latin dialogue.
It’s the story of twin brothers Romulus and Remus and their creation of Rome after they were placed in a basket and left on the bank of the river Tiber as babies and fed by a she-wolf. According to promotional materials they are forced to face the tragic dilemma of either sacrificing what they most love in the world, or fighting against the inescapable will of the Gods. Their tale of sacrilege and prophecy is doomed by the awareness that the future of the biggest empire in the world is founded on their brotherhood conflict.
Toplining the cast of “King,” which is budgeted at 7.5 million euros ($9 million) is Alessandro Borghi, who stars Netflix’s first Italian original, “Suburra,” which launched Saturday from the Lido at the Venice Film Festival. Borghi is also the master of ceremonies at Venice this year. Other key cast members include Alessio Lapice, who stars in “Nato a Casal di Principe,” which is playing in Venice’s Cinema in the Garden section, and Belgium-based Italian actor Fabrizio Rongione (“Two Days, One Night”).
Rovere, who is also a producer, made a splash at the Italian box office in 2016 with “Italian Race,” set in the rally racing world. He is a co-producer of smash Italian hit “I Can Quit Whenever I Want,” about a group of unemployed academics who go into the recreational drug trade.
Rovere’s Ascent Film and Groenlandia, a shingle run by Andrea Paris, are co-producing with Rai Cinema, whose 01 Distribuzione arm will release the film in Italy.
The pic is also being co-produced with Belgium’s GapBusters outfit, which is a conduit for European and Canadian producers looking for Belgian tax-shelter funds for projects with high commercial potential. Most of the special effects will be done in Belgium.